Sunday, September 22, 2013

A note from the cheap seats

MMummm, wrumf...

What's that? Summer's over? The fall rains have begun? Drat! Oh well, I guess it's time to hunker down indoors and resume blogging again. Who knows if it will once again become a regular habit. Honestly that regularity was a bit of a drag last time around. The expectation of producing something every day or so. Good grief. I know journalists and beat writers deal with that pressure on a regular basis. But I'm not getting paid. This is supposed to be fun. And it will be, and long as no one expects it to B. So don't get your hopes up. I'm certainly not.


During B's absence all sorts of changes have happened in the blogosphere. Can I still call it a blogosphere? Many photo blogs have withered away completely, while some have picked up steam and been transformed into modern-looking starships. Concientious, Lensculture, Lenscratch, and DLK (Collector's Daily) now resemble online magazines more than blogs. They have buttons, menu, and newsletters, and appear designed by real-life graphic designers, not just some schmo on Blogger. Nice work, guys. But it brings into question the nature of a blog. Should it be a daily chronicle? If so, Tumblr seems better suited. Or should it be fleshed out as full-fledged resource base?

In some sense the gauntlet has been thrown. One can either step up to the big leagues and create a professional web presence, assuming all of the influence and accolades that come with that step. Or one can get out of the way.

Yes, Lee Iacocca's immortal words have finally come true in the blogosphere. All the trappings of power --the posse of reliable retweeters, limos waiting curbside, access to hot young interns-- are now accessible to anyone who is willing to put in the time and energy to upgrade. But for those unwilling or unable to keep up, the default option is to fade into the blogospheric background as a second-tier town crier. Maybe someone will read you, maybe they won't. I think it was this ambiguity which drove this blog offline last June. Why put in the time when no one gave a shit? A thought which I'm sure every blogger has contemplated at one point or another.

But the thing of it is, I've come to realize it's not about the glory. It's not about the limos or comped cocktails, though I wouldn't turn down either. Hint hint. It's about standing on that soapbox. If you close your eyes and imagine you're Thomas Paine spouting truth-to-the-world-dammit!, it can be just like the good old days of the internet when the playing field was level and everyone had an equal voice. Why, in the wee morning hours after you've been standing on that soapbox for several days, even those voices inside your head might be treated as equal. You know, the ones which sound louder when you're wearing the aluminum rabbit ears? Those ones. And with your help they might be spread far and wide. Someone could read you in Timbuktu or Beijing, or a small town in Kansas, a forgotten corner just clinging to a ray of blog-hope to nourish on some small photographic morsel. Would you deny that person?

So I've been wrestling with the decision. Am I gonna step up to the big leagues? Or am I gonna continue heckling from the cheap seats? In June I wasn't ready to answer that question. But I've matured. I'm older now, and slightly tanner. And I own a few new T-shirts. What I'm gonna do is split the difference. I'm gonna heckle from a newly designed blog.

I've given B a complete makeover but --Grace Slick be damned-- it's less like a starship than an airplane. My promotional budget is zero. No tweets, links, likes, or publicity. Rather than adding features I've removed them, and rather than hiring a graphic designer, the layout is proudly by just some schmo on Blogger, i.e. me. The content will be the same, but of course more mature. Less fucking potty talk. And probably less regular postings. More like a...a magazine?

I know this will be confusing. I'm confused too. So I've prepared a simple blog usage manual explaining some of the changes and new terms.


Maybe someone will read it. Maybe some won't. But I've come to terms finally with that equation, and I'm ok with it. It's not you, baby. It's me. It always has been.

13 comments:

Nate Parker! said...

I like stuff!

Jesper said...

Great to have you back!

Stan B. said...

Yeah, it's an ongoing process. When I first started I wanted the most exposure possible, etc, etc, etc. Now it's like the photography- I give it what I got, you can take it or leave it...

Funny though (not actually)- the more "professional" one gets, the more removed one gets from one's "audience" (ie- no comments, increased adverts, etc).

John said...

Hi, I am from Moldova, a small country between Ukraine and Romania. I love your blog and I was very upset you it stopped producing content. You were on my top of street photographers and photo blogs in my Feedly...and your place is still there. I was inspired by your words and by your love for just the process of making images, interesting images, images that work for the brain, that make you think. You made me find my own path in a way and think more skeptical
about all those "beautiful" words about photography that thrown by other photo bloggers. I am really glad you are back and that I have what to check for every morning at work.

I am also following your tumblr. :) Have a nice day.

Paul O. said...

Good thinking there. Have fun with it, don't treat it like a chore -- it will come through in the writing if you do.

Really good to have you back.

Michael Morris said...

"Read you... in Beijing."

Then have them knock on my door at 2:00 am and whack me on the head with a stick? No thank you.

Mike Watt said...

What makes the breaks, the fakes? Where reality becomes digital and the big hankering cometh, I'll vote "yes" for life in the big "choice" poll.

John Pitsakis said...

I like (and second) Stan B.'s comment.
Welcome back Blake, we'll take whatever comes round.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Jack simon said:
whoopee just chanced back on your site today.
I love heckling. Like the look of this too.
Best,
Jack

Joseph Bayot said...

Really good to have you back in (on?) the blogosphere! However you choose to publish your musings, we will continue to read them!

Luke said...

dude you rock, please don't stop! i used to love the posts where people talked about the backstory behind their photos.

Luke said...

dude you rock, please don't stop! i used to love the posts where people talked about the backstory behind their photos.

Jin said...

Good, good. Glad you are back!

Re: Tumblr, I think it keeps me saner to stay away from the reblogs and likes and social media zaps of endorphins in at least one part of my web presence. It helps me believe that the blog is really for me, not for an "audience," which is probably 50% googlebots, 45% people googling sex and squirrels, and 5% real live followers anyway...

Not to mention your own site is the only way to keep ads off of viewer eyeballs these days. Seems like an increasingly bad proposition to be a part of those social media streams which just end up becoming consumer data for admen...